The nation’s love for kebabs and pizza helped takeaway sales of lamb and cheese soar by 80% during lockdown, according to estimates by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) analysts.

Latest research shows that, during quarantine, takeaways of Chinese, Indian and pizza fared the best of all food delivery outlets – leading to lamb volume sales in takeaways rising by a staggering 82%, and cheese up 78%.

However, despite takeaway sales growing by a massive 192% in the 12 weeks to May 17, it was not enough to offset the losses from collections and drive-thrus. These typically account for over 80% of products sold from takeaways.

Research also shows that other sectors fared less well, with the loss of major burger outlets hindering beef and potato performances – with volumes falling 22% and 35% respectively.

Major shift in meals distributed

Kim Malley, AHDB retail insight manager, commented on this research, saying: “The takeaway and delivery market is more important for some AHDB sectors than others, because of the nature of the dishes popular in this channel."

The volume of lamb used in takeaways rose by 1,300t, while cheese volumes used in takeaways grew by 4,600t, boosted by pizza chains which remained open during lockdown.

Overall, the takeaway and delivery market fell by 41% in April, with the data also showing a major shift in how meals were distributed to consumers.

In April, takeaway collections and drive-thrus saw their share collapse from 84% to just 31%, as consumers observed strict social-distancing rules and a growth in routes that involve minimal contact.

With major chains now returning to the takeaway and delivery market and eating-out not a possibility until July 4, the AHDB suggests this market will peak in June but will maintain double-digit growth until the eating-out market starts to normalise.